I can confirm that there were sudden and abrupt changes in the development of Destiny less than a year ago. There was tension between higher ups the entire time we were developing the title due to a lack of cohesion about the vision for the game. One side wanted this huge space epic, like an MMO Mass Effect and the other side was not convinced that would sell and wanted to pare things back to more "easily accessible" standards. They were afraid too much story elements and cut scenes would drive players off.
Then Joe left and everything just fell apart. By the time we were 7 months out to release, word came down that we were making massive revisions to the game's story. Huge portions of dialogue were excised and I think several recordings were redone to support the new narrative. Entire areas that would have been in the final game were removed, but some of the context wasn't, which explains weird reactions from NPCs and strange, unexplained motivations. We had a guy come in to write the grimoire cards who was given access to the original script with notations on what was cut and what needed to be revised in order to make this zombie of a game seem plausible.
All of the Last City factions had their storylines and dialogue cut, the Guardian's initial introduction to the Tower and the Last City was cut, and ALL the origins were homogenized down to the one originally used for Exo characters.
Most of what was cut was planned to be re-polished into DLC, but it's all there on the disc. Not all of it is live on the servers, but it's all there on the disc. Some last minute art assets needed to be remade, which is what you'll be downloading.
It's an embarrassing disaster and not the game I thought would be published.
HumanCatnip: Will we be seeing these tidbits of dialogue or are they lost to the Darkness forever?
404Architect: I don't know the answer to that. Some of it I doubt will ever see the light of day because it contradicts the story as presented now. Some of it could be repolished and turned into DLC. That is what is happening with some of the locations on Earth and Mars.
The_Prince_of_Wishes: Was Jupiter, Saturn, Europa etc. cut content or still in development?
404Architect: They were still in development.
Fasterthanapigeon: How come the fallen can climb and there are trip wire mines in the intro... But never again?
404Architect: The introduction you know is closest to the original content, which had more robust and cinematic level design. It was originally designed for the Exo introduction but was generalized to represent all guardians closer to launch. The trip mines make a brief appearance again in the published game in the strike where you face Sepkis Prime, whatever that is called now. There were plans to include more dynamic enemy AI, but there was not sufficient time to develop that.
hardshocker: I have no way to know if you are telling the truth but I'll ask anyway. Is there a way for you, or someone else who is willing to tell the tales from inside bungie, to give a real view of the original story to me. I don't care about getting it out or exposing anyone, I just want to know the real story that was planned. This was the one game I was excited to get in a long time and it hurts me personally that I didn't get a chance to see the true vision. There must be way for me to know.
404Architect: The closest you will ever get is the ViDoc from 2013, unless someone risks their job and jail time to get design documents out. I hope no one is that reckless.
GoCallYourMommy: From where you sit, do you feel the long term expectation is lots of DLC/patches that will be improving the game as the standard moving forward? I have just been coming to this subreddit for the last day because I am abysmally bored with the constant grinding/repeat missions and was looking to see if there was something else I have missed to keep the game interesting. I can only guess the long term strategy was to get people hooked, then pay for a better experience as time goes by to justify the costs of development/release. Seems to be the standard now in gaming regardless.
Thanks for even posting in here. I didn't realize so many people were into the behind the scenes drama, and hope you don't get attacked by too many folks.
404Architect: There is an ongoing plan to release regular DLC flow, provided the game continues to be profitable/projects to be profitable in the future. If the end-user experience thus-far is any indication, it may not be enough content. The game is considerably more barren than what was intended to ship.
I'll add a little more. Part of the reason why so much was cut and held back was to buy time. When Joe and others left it was a blow to development cycle. What was cut was cut in order to take the place of newly developed content so we could "catch up."
Larima: Were the 'higher ups' on the publishing side or the development side?
404Architect: I can't say that with any authority, but there was pressure from Activision to meet our deadline.
Larima: Will we be seeing the cut storyline content?
404Architect: In some form or another. The Reef story mission is cannibalized from the Awoken character arc.
Larima: I see. Will the coming content expand the story to be, uh, more complete at least?
404Architect: I don't know, unfortunately. Whatever shape it will be taking will not be the original direction the game was designed in.
That said, I do think what is developed in the future will attempt to "right" the sinking ship. There are still many talented and devoted people there.
Larima: So, the story of Destiny in the future has yet to be written basically?
404Architect: In a fashion, yes.
But if some things stay aligned to the original outline, the past has yet to be written too.
Larima: Do you think the, uh, let's say 'vague' story is making the development of a more complete one easier at all?
404Architect: I will say it is making more work.
Larima: Ah. Are there any plans to do anything with the tower factions? I would like to back Dead Orbit in some other way than being fashionable with their cloak.
404Architect: Everything for the factions was cut. I do not know if there is plans to expand on them as was intended in upcoming DLC. Possibly? That's uncertain at present.
Larima: That's a shame. Was there plans for a faction war system? Who was new Monarchy's 'Monarch'. What's the deal with the FWC? Dead Orbit's deal was to just leave the solar system, right?
404Architect: All of those points were detailed in the original plan for the game. Each faction had a distinct story. Voice acting was recorded (beyond the ambient voice work you hear while walking around). Some of this content may make its way back into the game in the form of DLC or patch updates. I do not know what kind of schedule or plan is on that, however.
There are whole factions that were cut as well, some directly tied to the original story and will need to be extensively re-tooled for the new storyline.
Kizdeangix: Thanks for posting this. The beginning sequence being tied to exo characters makes a lot of sense. I wish we could have gotten the human/awoken ones. Having an organic being whose been dead a really long time suddenly materialize with no context ws a terrible way to start the game. The story is nonexistent. My first play through I was always asking my friend what was going on because none of it made any sense. I feel bad for the "little guys" who worked so hard on this project, only to see the whole thing get bastardized into what we have now. The only reason I play at all is because of the fluid mechanics, musical scores, and wonderful artwork that the "little guys" made so well.
404Architect: All characters began as deceased, just not in the same location. The context was originally there, but some portions of the game were both stripped down and also not finished in time and needed to be removed. What was cobbled together after the fact removed any sense of agency or identity.
Larima: Is there more of a story as to why Joe Staten left?
404Architect: That isn't for me to say, I won't put words in Joe's mouth.
404Architect: There's still a lot to be proud of with how Destiny turned out, but it isn't the game we set out to make yet.
truemeliorist: First, thanks for responding. Please do everything you can to keep your identity safe - there are a lot of customers who want blood I think.
To your knowledge, was there ever any plan to allow inter-player interaction? I know this was one of the biggest bits of feedback from testing, and have heard that activision put its foot down and basically said "no, we think all of our players are annoying 12 year olds so no communication." No word on whether or not the last bit is true.
I know the new dev notes mention that it should be coming in a pared down format, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that those of us who don't have friends who play are more or less stuck spamming invites to people. Any non-Destiny players I try to show the game to all react the same - they love the idea that you can play with other people, but when you mention that you don't have a way to ask them if they're working on the same thing as you, they're just incredulous that that was considered a "good" thing.
404Architect: There was voice chat and player trading a year ago as well as other player/player interactive elements, as well as a more player-driven economy. The decision to cut voice chat and trading at release was a part of the new "vision" for Destiny.